Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (2-15-10): Opportunities & challenges in medical electronics - Embedded.com

Embedded.com Tech Focus Newsletter (2-15-10): Opportunities & challenges in medical electronics


02-15-2010
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TECH FOCUS – OPPORTUNITIES & CHALLENGES IN MEDICAL ELECTRONICS
Embedded systems developers have seen many of their traditional markets shrink drastically during the current economic downturn – consumer, industrial, automotive and even mil/aero have been hit hard. The one bright spot, however, has been medical electronics, with many developers convinced that there is a sure path to money in medical systems design.

There is much evidence to support this view. With the need for better patient care and access to diagnosis and treatment increasing, the medical market has continued to invest in new devices and technologies. In addition, in the U.S. the medical industry is recipient economic stimulus funds. And there are still more massive shifts predicted in medical technology ahead .

As a result, embedded systems design companies are focusing their attention on this segment with a variety of hardware and software products and technologies: power supplies designed specifically for medical apps, SoC techniques for handheld medical devices, implantable medical devices , energy-efficient wearable health monitors, RTOSes adapted to medical needs, MEMS sensors, and  medical measurement sensors.

However, the medical market is no panacea for economic woes, with challenges facing developers of medical devices include portability and miniaturization, connectivity, safety, data security and quality, and reliability. Of these one of the toughest hurdles to overcome is the demanding reliability standards of agencies such as the U.S. FDA , especially as it relates to software.

On Embedded.com, we have focused on design articles on tools and methodologies to help you meet these requirements. In addition to my Editor's Top Pick : “A Formal Methods-based verification approach to medical device software analyis , other recent article topics have included: a layered software test automation technique, applying static analysis to medical device software, and UML-based fault tree analysis for medical safety-critical apps. Good reading!! (Bernard Cole, Embedded.com Editor, bccole@acm.org

  EDITOR'S TOP PICKS by Bernard Cole, Embedded.com Editor
A Formal Methods-based verification approach to medical device software analysis
How to use formal methods”based abstract interpretation techniques to mathematically prove the absence of a defined set of run-time errors and a comparison with techniques as code review, static analysis, and dynamic testing.
Layering it on–a new approach to automating system tests
This article presents the pitfalls and challenges posed by an automation test solution for an embedded system, namely a Voice over IP media gateway. The layered testing architecture it proposes does not always reduce testing effort but converts tasks such as execution, validation, monitoring, and reporting into software routines.
  DESIGN ARTICLES
Taking advantage of opportunities and challenges in medical electronics
With the need for better medical care and access to medical diagnosis and treatment increasing, challenges facing developers of medical devices include portability and miniaturization, connectivity, safety, data security and quality, and reliability.
Pushing the limits of AC/DC power system design to meet needs of medical apps
While it is clear that reductions in size and improvements in efficiency are constant pressures in the design of AC/DC power supplies, the medical device market has some particular requirements that make the challenge greater still. This article considers these challenges and looks at how recent AC/DC switching power supplies are being designed to meet them.
Adopting An SOC-based Approach to Designing Handheld Medical Devices
The rapid growth of the medical devices industry has seen a comparable increase in demand for handheld medical devices, from personal defibulators to continuous glucose monitors. Designing such devices can be a daunting task.
Build Safety-Critical Designs with UML-based Fault Tree Analysis: ventilator evaluation
This three part series describes Fault Tree Analysis for safety evaluation, and use of the UML profiling mechanism to create a safety analysis profile, including the definition of its normative metamodel. Part 3: FTA of a surgical anesthesia ventilator.
A low power, high stability relaxation oscillator for implantable biomedical apps
The designers of a self-clocked offset cancellation technique for comparators within a relaxation oscillator share their findings and explain why the resulting improvements in frequency drift and close-in phase fluctuations are relevant to industrial, scientific or medical applications.
Energy harvested for wearable health monitor
Authors detail energy scavenging and power management techniques which make the wearable healt monitoring system fully autonomous and operate without battery.
Buy or Build an RTOS: Does it Matter for Medical Devices?
The development of an electronic medical device requires the consideration of a range of issues: reliability, certification, cost and time to market. Reuse of available proven technology is just common sense, and a commercial RTOS is a good place to start.
CompactPCI Proves Its Mettle in Medical Design
How Kontron worked with Techniscan to boost the performance of its Ultrasound CT Breast Imaging System to boost the computing power of the system's scanning capabilities by incorporating a CompactPCI CP6012 single board computer using a single 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor.
The care and feeding of ADCs in portable medical sensor apps
How the LT6502 and LTC2366 successive approximation ADCs are used to improve response time and latency response in many medical sensor and measurement app.
Applying Static Analysis To Medical Device Software
David Kleidermacher describes in more detail how static analysis tools can be used to improve the software reliability and safety of many medical devices and systems.
Using static analysis to evaluate software in medical devices
Researchers at the FDA's Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories investigating new techniques for analyzing software in medical devices are using static analysis tools to uncover potential flaws in a device under review.
  NEWS FEATURES/COMMENTARY
Massive shifts in medical technology ahead, study says
Over the decade ahead, the western industrial countries will significantly lose out against Asia when it comes to innovation power in the medical technologies, a study from German industry association VDE says.
The path to money in medical systems design
Between government stimulus packages, an aging population, exploding healthcare costs and increasing need for better remote diagnostics, it's understandable that engineers looking for the next big opportunity would look up and cry: “Thars gold in them thar [medical] hills.” But not so fast.
The Medical Market: No Panacea for Economic Woes
Murray Slovick reports on the ESC panel “Medical Systems Trends and Opportunities.”
MEMS sensors: good medicine
Microelectromechanical-system-based inertial and motion sensors are finding slots in medical applications, with demand fueled by implantable devices that must be highly reliable and very small, as well as by handheld devices for home monitoring and diagnostics.
  UNDER THE HOOD: Teardowns
Blood glucose meters–medical labs in the palm of your handby
The number of people who suffer from diabetes is growing. The CDC (Centers or Disease Control and Prevention) states that 23.6 million Americans had diabetes in 2007, with more cases every year.
Medical Design: Under my skin
Understanding the design challenges involved with implantable antennas is helping to advance the development of wireless medical devices.
  EDITOR'S NOTE by Bernard Cole, Embedded.com Editor
ESC Silicon Valley is increasingly the place to get hands-on training. In the past, we told you how to develop your system, then you went back to your lab to make it work. Now, we're bringing that lab to you, giving you the hardware and software you need to design, develop, and debug your system. Find out more here. Note: Early-bird registration expires February 19th.

Finally, as the deployments of 3G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks accelerate, engineers have their hands full developing and testing handsets to meet the extreme performance requirements these networks demand. Our online course, the Fundamentals of LTE Physical Layer and Test Requirements will take you through the LTE standard and show you how to set up to test user equipment using the latest test systems and techniques

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